Showing posts from March, 2016

How many young people don't drink alcohol? Let's focus on the positive for a change

Anyone who has ever seen me present to secondary school students knows that one of the basic foundations of my approach is the promotion of 'positive norms' - i.e., letting young people know that most adolescents do not necessarily drink to excess and that the vast majority of school-based young people are not using illicit drugs. What I do is 'flip the figures' - taking the data on how many people take part in such behaviour and then turn it on its head - looking at those who don't do it! What this hopefully does is make those not involved in those activities feel good about their choices, particularly in a world that is constantly hammering the message that all teens take drugs and binge drink! This is known as the 'social norms' approach. The idea evolved from research conducted in the mid 1980s by two American researchers, H.W. Perkins and A.D. Berkowitz, when they reported that college students involved in their studies held exaggerated beliefs abo

10 tips for parents around alcohol and other drugs

Adolescence is such a difficult time for both teens and their parents. As their mind and body is changing, the child is trying to work out exactly where they fit in the world, struggling to establish an identity that is separate and distinct from that of their parents. At the same time parents are desperately trying to stay connected to a creature that they sometimes barely recognize as the little boy or girl that they seemed to have a loving and warm relationship with only a short time before! When parents contact me to discuss the problems with their teen (particularly in relation to alcohol and other drugs) I usually feel pretty helpless. Firstly, I am not a psychologist or counsellor and don't have training in assisting parents (or young people) in that way, and secondly, when I talk to those professionals who do have the expertise they are very clear that there aren't simple answers to these type of problems and usually the family is just going to have to 'ride it ou

Teens, parties and parents and 'duty of care': One Dad's experience

So many things can go wrong when hosting a teen party, with even the best planned event sometimes going 'pear-shaped'! Ensuring that all partygoers are safe is paramount and that can be really difficult when you're dealing with teens who are 'missing a piece of their brain' ... The dramatic increase in pre-parties (where young people drink just enough to avoid detection when they enter the main party of the night) makes this even more difficult for those putting on parties. As I've said many times before, the most important thing parents can do is to find out as much about the night your child is planning and then drop them off and pick them up. They're not going to like it and it's not going to be a pleasant experience for you every weekend but at least you'll be more aware of what they're up to and that they're as safe as possible. But even if you do that there are no guarantees ... I'm going to let the following piece written by a

How do you deal with the alcohol issue if your teen is on medication?

In the past year I have met students who have had a wide range of medical conditions including diabetes, peanut allergies, epilepsy, depression, ADHD and cystic fibrosis. All of them approached me after my presentation with exactly the same query - how should they deal with the issue of drinking and did I know anything about the interaction between their medication (and boy, was there a wide assortment there!) and alcohol? The vast majority of these students made it very clear that they weren't drinking at the moment and didn't really think they were going to try anytime soon but thought they'd take the opportunity to ask me what they should do if they ever decided to have some alcohol at a party or the like. A couple of weeks ago, however, I met one young man who was really struggling. He was a great kid and I felt so sorry for him as he was obviously having a difficult time dealing, not only with his medical condition, but also the potential impact his diagnosis could